Monday, March 24, 2014

Yu Darvish (neck) doubtful for Opening Day

Whether or not staff ace Yu Darvish (neck) will be ready for Opening Day is unclear at this point.

T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes: "Darvish played catch on Monday but is still dealing with a stiff neck. The Rangers aren’t sure when he’ll get back on the mound and it appears more questionable if he’ll be ready for Opening Day. General manager Jon Daniels said it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Darvish gets pushed back."

The Rangers open the season with a series against the Phillies that begins on Monday, March 31st.

In his second season with the Rangers, Darvish finished second behind Max Scherzer in A.L. Cy Young voting with a 13-9 record, 2.83 ERA (fourth-best in AL) and league-best 277 strikeouts.

Darvish is ranked second in my 2014 starting pitcher fantasy baseball rankings behind only Clayton Kershaw.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Jurickson Profar (shoulder) to miss 10-12 weeks

Trading Ian Kinsler to the Tigers for first baseman Prince Fielder in the offseason opened up door for Jurickson Profar to become the Rangers' everyday second baseman.

Unfortunately, someone other than Profar will be manning second base for the Rangers for the first few months of the season.

According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, Profar will be sidelined for 10 to 12 weeks with a torn muscle in his shoulder although the injury won't require surgery.

Per T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Josh Wilson is the leading candidate to replace him, although they will consider other options, such as Adam Rosales, Brent Lillibridge and Kensuke Tanaka (both of whom can be recalled from the minors) and top prospect Rougned Odor.

Turning 21 years old in February, Profar was Baseball America's top prospect after the 2012 season. This spring, Profar was hitting .222 with two homers and 11 runs batted in.

Max Scherzer rejects "substantial, long-term" offer from Tigers

Detroit Tigers starter Max Scherzer rejected a "substantial, long-term contract offer" from the team, according to team's Twitter feed.

In addition, the Tigers official statement indicates there will be "no further in-season negotiations" with Scherzer, who is due to become a free agent after the 2014 season.

Last year, Scherzer won the A.L. Cy Young award with a 21-3 record, 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts in 214.1 innings. Scherzer led the league in wins and WHIP (0.970) and finished second in K/9 (10.078) behind Yu Darvish (11.890) after leading the league in 2012 with an 11.1 K/9 rate.

Scherzer is my SP7 in my 2014 fantasy baseball starting pitcher rankings.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Joakim Soria named Rangers' closer

The Texas Rangers have named Joakim Soria as the team's closer, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Manager Ron Washington says (via T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com) that Soria won the job due to "[h]is consistency and his … experience in closing down ballgames."

Before missing 2012 (Tommy John surgery), Soria notched 160 saves with the Royals from 2007 to 2011. In his five seasons with the Royals, Soria had a 2.40 ERA, 1.043 WHIP and struck out 341 batters in 315.1 innings pitched.

In addition to Soria being named closer, Alexi Ogando will be the set-up man and Tanner Scheppers has earned a spot in the rotation.

On the other hand, Neftali Feliz is "competing for a spot" in the Rangers' bullpen.

So far this spring, Soria has yet to allow an earned run in 7.0 innings and has allowed just three hits and no walks while striking out five batters. Meanwhile, Feliz has a 4.50 ERA and opponents are hitting .324 against him this spring.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kris Medlen to have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday

The early expectations (or fears) were that Braves starter Kris Medlen would need Tommy John surgery after leaving his March 9th start with what was initially described as a forearm strain.

Today, that was confirmed.

Medlen will will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, per MLB.com's Mark Bowman.

In a message to fans thanking them for their support, Medlen said that he will "approach this process with the same drive that I’ve had my entire life and will do everything I can to come back from this “thing” twice."

Meanwhile, Brandon Beachy will be evaluated further in L.A., but the expectation is that he will also need Tommy John surgery.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Braves sign Ervin Santana to one-year deal

Earlier this morning, the Braves annouced via Twitter that they have signed Ervin Santana to a one-year deal.

Per ESPN, the deal is worth approximately $14 million.

Especially considering the injuries to the team's rotation, adding the best available free-agent pitcher makes a ton of sense.

Kris Medlen, the expected Opening Day starter, left his last start with what could be a season-ending injury, but he is still being evaluated.

In addition, Mike Minor may also begin the season on the disabled list and Brandon Beachy left Monday's start with elbow/forearm tightness.

With the Royals last season, Santana was 9-10 with a career-best 3.24 ERA and struck out 161 batters in 211 innings pitched.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Kris Medlen (forearm) leaves start early, to have MRI Monday

In the fourth inning of today's spring training game against the Mets, Braves starter Kris Medlen left the game early with what is being called a right forearm strain.

That said, there is the potential that it is a serious injury for Medlen, who had Tommy John surgery back in 2010.

Medlen will have an MRI and be evaluated by the team's orthopedist on Monday, per MLB.com's Mark Bowman.

As Bowman notes, Medlen's initial reaction today after throwing the pitch that led to the injury was similar to his reaction from 2010 before he needed Tommy John surgery.

"He wasn't in good spirits [initially]," [Braves manager Fredi] Gonzalez said. "But after he got settled down a little bit and the trainers looked at him a little bit and the Mets doctors looked at him, I think he was in better spirits."

In 43 starts since July 31, 2012, Medlen has an ERA of 2.47, which is second only to Clayton Kershaw (1.80) during that span.

Hopefully, the news for Medlen tomorrow is better than it appeared, but it looks like there is a good chance that Medlen will begin the season on the disabled list. Not only could the Braves be without Medlen to start the season, but Mike Minor is hoping to be ready by the end of the second week of the regular season.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Yankees, Brett Gardner agree to 4-year extension

The New York Yankees and outfielder Brett Gardner have agreed to a four-year extension worth $52 million, per Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News.

In addition, the Yankees have a team option at $12.5 million (with a $2 million buyout) for 2019.

Gardner hit .273 last season with an AL-high 10 triples, eight homers, 52 runs batted in, 81 runs and 24 stolen bases. In his career, Gardner has stolen 168 bases on 199 attempts for a success rate of 84 percent.

One of the faster players in baseball, Gardner will play left field this year with the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury in the offseason. In addition to Ellsbury, the Yankees signed Carlos Beltran this offseason.

All three of those outfielders are under contract for at least the next three seasons: Ellsbury (2020), Gardner (2018) and Beltran (2016).

In my 2014 fantasy outfielder rankings, I currently have Ellsbury, Beltran and Gardner ranked seventh, 27th and 44th, respectively.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Closer Craig Kimbrel, Braves agree to four-year extension

The Braves and closer Craig Kimbrel have agreed to a four-year extension that includes a team option for 2018 as well, via Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

As Ken Rosenthal tweets, the extension buys out all three years of arbitration and one, possibly two (with the 2018 option), year of free agency.

Per ESPN's Jayson Stark, the deal is worth at least $42 million over those four years.

In the past three seasons as the team's closer, Kimbrel has a total of 138 saves with an ERA of 1.48, a WHIP of 0.871 and K/9 rate of 14.9 (341 strikeouts in 206.2 innings).

Without question, Kimbrel is the top fantasy reliever heading into the 2014 season.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Derek Jeter to retire after the 2014 season

One year after we saw the farewell tour for Mariano Rivera, it will be El Capitan's turn in 2014.

Earlier today, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter announced via his Facebook page that the 2014 season will be his final season.

While he's never won a regular-season MVP, Jeter helped lead the Yankees to five World Series titles and will be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.

Breaking the franchise's hit record several seasons ago, Jeter currently ranks 10th on the all-time hits list with 3,316. Assuming Jeter stays healthy, which is no given after playing in only 17 games in 2013 and about to turn 40 in June, he has an excellent chance to move up to sixth all-time in hits.

With 120 hits, he will pass Cap Anson (3,435, 6th), Honus Wagner (3,420, 7th), Carl Yastrzemski (3,419, 8th) and Paul Molitor (3,319, 9th). There is little chance that he gets the 200 hits he needs to pass Tris Speaker (3,515, 5th), but Jeter did get 216 hits just two seasons ago (2012). (He's reached the 200-hit milestone eight times in his career.)

Not only does Jeter rank first among Yankees' players in hits, he ranks first in games (2,602), at-bats (10,614) and stolen bases (348). Jeter ranks third in runs scored (1,876) behind Babe Ruth (1,959) and Lou Gehrig (1,888) and sixth in runs batted in (1,261).

Phillies sign Burnett to one-year deal, Hamels won't be ready for Opening Day

According to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly, the Phillies have agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent starting pitcher A.J. Burnett and that the deal is worth $16 million.

Even though he had a losing record (10-11) last season with the Pirates, Burnett tied a previous career low in ERA (3.30) and struck out 209 batters in 191.0 innings.

Not only did Burnett's K/9 rate of 9.848 set a career best, but he ranked first in the National League in the category. Miami's Jose Fernandez (9.747) and New York's Matt Harvey (9.639) finished second and third, respectively.

In addition, his HR/9 rate of 0.518 was only slightly worse than his career-best rate of 0.517 (2005). The only N.L. pitchers that had a better rate in 2013 were Harvey (0.353), Clayton Kershaw (0.420) and Jhoulys Chacin (0.502).

Burnett will be the team's No. 3 starter behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. That said, Hamels (shoulder tendinitis) is currently behind in his throwing program and won't be ready for the start of the season.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

NEW: 2014 Fantasy Baseball Mock Draft Simulator Available

Want to learn Mandarin Chinese? Want to become a better free-throw shooter? Want to learn how to play the guitar?

All seemingly unrelated items, the one thing they share in common is that repeated practice is the means to achieving those goals. Even if practice doesn't make perfect, as the saying goes, there is no denying that practice will make you better.

So, what does this have to do with a (fantasy) baseball blog?

Well, if you want to become better at drafting your fantasy baseball team(s) in 2014, the best way to develop and hone that skill is to practice ... and then practice some more.

While it's a no-brainer to take guys like Mike Trout or Miguel Cabrera at the top of the draft, you will get a better chance of how the draft will play out by completing as many mock drafts as you can. In addition, it makes sense to try out some different strategies to see how that would potentially alter the overall composition of your team.

If you're like me (or most people), you don't have the time to spend hour after hour completing mock drafts.

By using the mock draft simulator on our site (powered by FantasyPros), you can complete a full mock draft in a matter of five minutes. You will draft for your team (you can select league size and draft slot), and the computer will draft for the other slots based on the expert consensus rankings and average draft position.

Starting at some point in February, we will do and post a mock draft per day with analysis. And while that may/should be useful as well, there is nothing like you getting the hands-on practice of doing mocks yourself as opposed to reading about ours.

So, what are you waiting for? Start your fantasy baseball mock drafts now.

* DraftKings: Play Daily Fantasy Sports and get a 100-percent bonus (up to $600) on your initial deposit.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers agree to 7-year deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers and their 25-year-old staff ace, Clayton Kershaw, have agreed to a seven-year deal worth $215 million, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles.

Per Shelburne, the deal allows Kershaw, who would have been eligibility for free agency in 2015, to opt out of the deal after the fifth season.  Easily becoming the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history, Kershaw's deal beats the extension signed last year by Detroit's Justin Verlander by $35 million.

The winner of two N.L. Cy Young awards in the past three seasons, Kershaw finished second to R.A. Dickey the year he didn't win it.

Not only does Kershaw have a sub-3.00 ERA in each of the past five seasons, he has led the N.L. in ERA for three consecutive years including a career-best 1.83 ERA last season.  In addition, he has led the league in WHIP in each of the past three seasons and has 200-plus strikeouts in four consecutive seasons.

Without question, Kershaw will be the slam-dunk top fantasy pitcher when I release my initial 2014 fantasy baseball rankings later this month.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

2013 World Series Prediction: Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals

In the ultimate slap in the face to Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox are in the World Series, only a year removed winning 69 games.  They'll square off against the Cardinals starting this Wednesday, and I don't see how you can bet against them.

Boston has been the most consistent team all year.  They hit pretty well at every position, have a good to great top-four starting pitchers, and with Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara, the game might as well be seven innings, as both pitchers have been virtually unhittable.

The Sox made a habit of getting no-hit for about five innings/game against Detroit, but still found a way to win the Series in six games.  They got shut down against Max Scherzer twice, but the bullpen gave up a grand slam in each game, and Boston won both games.  They also managed only one run against Justin Verlander, who was brilliant in the postseason, and won the game 1-0.  I just don't see how you combat that kind of timely hitting and never-say-die momentum that they have been carrying through the playoffs.

The Cardinals have been impressive as well.  They have also had some timely hitting, and were able to avoid a collapse after holding a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers, the way they did last year against the Giants.  If not for the emergence of Michael Wacha, I would be even more confident in the Red Sox to win it all, but Wacha has been even better than Adam Wainwright in the playoffs, and deservedly won the NLCS MVP.

If Wacha can continue his recent success, then the Cardinals will have a good chance to win the four games they'll need to win with Wainwright and Wacha each likely to start two if the series goes long enough.

I think these teams are similar, with the Cards having a little bit better starting pitching at the top, and the Red Sox having a little more depth to the rotation.  In tight games, though, you have to have a good bullpen to either stop the bleeding or to cling to a small lead, and the Red Sox have found a winning combination there.

As a Yankees fan, I will be rooting for the Cardinals to win it all, but I just don't see it happening.  I hope I'm wrong, but objectively, I'll give the nod to the Sox to win the series 4-2.

[Editor's note: This post is by John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122), who also contributes at our NFL site: Eat, Drink and Sleep Football (see John's archives).]

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

MLB Midseason Awards: N.L. MVP Award

The NL MVP race does not have all the pizazz of the AL race, which has two guys with 30-plus home runs and the chance for a second triple crown in a row.

My contenders to win it would be Allen Craig, who is hitting .333 with 74 RBIs, Paul Goldschmidt at .313 with 21 home runs and 77 RBIs, and Michael Cuddyer, hitting .330 with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs.

I'd also give an honorable mention to Jean Segura, who has cooled off a bit of late, but is still hitting .325 with 121 hits and 27 stolen bases.  Segura has been killing it in fantasy, so gotta give him a mention.

Without too much conviction on my pick, I'll take Goldschmidt, who is putting up the best numbers on a team that, at the moment, is leading the division.

For other midseason awards, see below:
[Editor's note: This post is by John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122), who also contributes at our NFL site: Eat, Drink and Sleep Football (see John's archives).]